What We’re Reading is a roundup of current news and commentary on the challenges and opportunities of aligning business decisions with the long-term health of society. This month, a world reeling from the pandemic was also rocked by global demonstrations over racial injustice. Protests have been both widespread and decentralized, with pressure exerted from many different directions. These events are ongoing, but how can we think about this transition and what it may mean for business and society?
Mounting Unemployment Crisis Fuels Racial Wealth Gap (Megan Cassella, Politico) “While it took 10 years for the employment rate for black workers of prime working age to climb 10 points, for example, those gains are likely to be wiped out in a matter of months.”
Economists’ Silence on Racism Is 100 Years in the Making | Opinion (Dania Francis and Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, Newsweek) “…within a one-month period during the height of media coverage concerning COVID-19, 42 economists were either cited or contributed to op-eds and/or The Upshot. None of them identified as black despite growing evidence, at the time, about racial health disparities related to COVID-19.” How does the lack of diversity in economics act as a barrier to finding real solutions to problems at the intersection of race and the economy?
Purpose of the Corporation
Walmart to Stop Mississippi Flag Display; Reviews Third Party Sales on Canada Website (Bhargav Acharya, Kanishka Singh, Reuters) Corporations are scrambling to manage the display and sale of products featuring Confederate imagery, some through third-party vendors. How should businesses decide what course to take?
The End of Aunt Jemima and What Your Company Should Do (Sonia Thompson, Inc.) “Your customers need to see themselves or who they aspire to be reflected in the imagery your brand produces… And they need the products, services, and experiences you deliver to fit their needs, and match their values, without them having to compromise to make it work for them.” This moment is a call to both action and innovation.
Here’s What Companies Are Promising to Do to Fight Racism (Gillian Friedman, The New York Times) Many companies have made statements in support of Black Lives Matter. This piece presents a comprehensive list of the companies who are moving from announcements to more concrete action.
A BlackRock Executive Is Getting His Industry Talking About Racism (Annie Massa, Bloomberg) “I’ve found myself questioning who and what I am”: How has one managing director at BlackRock turned his own reaction to recent events into a constructive discussion that helps both company and industry move forward?
Whole Foods Employees Demanding the Right to Wear Black Lives Matter Apparel at Work (Allison Steele, Philadelphia Inquirer) But is worker voice on these issues welcome in every workplace?
Working from Home While Black (Laura Morgan Roberts and Courtney L. McCluney, Harvard Business Review) Since being forced home by the COVID pandemic, many workers have reported mental health struggles. Here’s why working from home represents special mental health challenges for African American employees—and can impose unfair professional repercussions.
Will Silicon Valley Face Up to Its Diversity Problem? (The Economist) This article describes tech’s response to the current crisis of racism as “among the loudest.” But what does that mean in practice?
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